Psychology Ph.D. Dissertations


Role of Calling in Emotional Labor

Date of Award


Document Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (Ph.D.)



First Advisor

Jennifer Gillespie

Second Advisor

Milt Hakel (Committee Member)

Third Advisor

Scott Highhouse (Committee Member)

Fourth Advisor

Mary Hare (Committee Member)

Fifth Advisor

Jeanne Novak (Committee Member)


With the increasing emphasis on customer service in business and industry, understanding how employees respond to emotional demands and manage emotions during interactions with customers is critical for organizational performance. Managing emotions for a wage can encompass several strategies, including: surface acting, deep acting and the expression of genuine felt emotions. Research on the meaning of work has also received increased attention recently. In complying with emotional demands inherent in an occupation, the degree a person perceives the job as meaningful, and has a calling orientation, may increase emotional labor, particularly deep acting and genuine felt emotions. The present study examined if having a calling orientation for work, or perceiving work as significant and rewarding, strengthened the relationship between customer emotional demands and emotional labor. Using two measures of customer emotional demands (O*NET database index and self-report), the present study found that emotional demands were positively related to self-reported emotional labor strategies. In addition, the calling orientation significantly moderated the relationship between non-self report and self-report emotional demands, and emotional labor strategies. People high in calling engaged in more deep acting and genuine felt emotion across emotional demands relative to people low in calling. Finally, the interaction between calling and emotional demands significantly predicted global job satisfaction, and in separate regression equations, was mediated by surface acting, deep acting and genuine felt emotions.